Pandemic sees living wage rates hike

Around 250,000 workers across the UK are set for a pay boost as ‘real living wage’ pay rates are increased, and an additional 800 employers sign up to the scheme during the pandemic

From 9 November, living wage rates rise to £9.50 per hour across the UK (20p increase), and £10.85 in London (10p increase).

This compares with a £8.72 hourly rate for those over 25 on the national living wage (NLW) and £8.20 per hour for those aged 21 to 24 on the national minimum wage (NMW).

The living wage is an hourly rate of pay set independently and updated annually, overseen by the Living Wage Foundation. It is calculated according to the basic cost of living in the UK, and employers choose to pay the living wage on a voluntary basis.

According to the Living Wage Foundation, a full-time worker paid the new £9.50 living wage will receive over £1,500 in additional wages annually compared to the current government minimum. For a full-time worker in London this figure rises to over £4,000.

Research by the Foundation conducted during the pandemic has found that 5.5m jobs (20.3% of employee jobs) are paying less than the living wage, a quarter of which are in Northern Ireland. Scotland has the lowest proportion of jobs paying below the living wage (15.2%). 

Laura Gardiner, Living Wage Foundation Director, said: ‘Today’s new living wage rates will give a boost to hundreds of thousands of UK workers, including thousands of key and essential workers like cleaners, care workers, and delivery drivers who have kept our economy going.’

Over 800 more employers have accredited with the Living Wage Foundation since the start of the pandemic, including Tate and Lyle Sugars, Network Rail, and Capital One. 

They join almost 7,000 employers across the UK, including two-fifths of the FTSE 100 companies, Big Four firm KPMG, and household names like Aviva, Nationwide, Everton Football Club and Brewdog.

Research conducted by Cardiff Business School showed 250,000 workers have benefitted from an additional £200m since the start of lockdown, including 130,000 key workers. Since 2011 over £1.3bn in extra wages has gone to workers and families through the living wage. 

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